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J Clin Oncol. 2004 Jun 15;22(12):2388-94.

The risk of cancer in users of statins.

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Departments of Clinical Pharmacy and Oncology, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.



Several preclinical studies suggested a role for 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase inhibitors (statins) in the treatment of cancer. The objective of this study was to compare the risk of incident cancer between users of statins and users of other cardiovascular medication.


Data were used from the PHARMO database, containing drug dispensing records from community pharmacies and linked hospital discharge records for residents of eight Dutch cities. The study base included all patients with one or more prescriptions for cardiovascular drugs in the period between January 1, 1985 and December 31, 1998. Cases were identified as patients in the study base with a diagnosis of incident cancer and matched with four to six controls on sex, year of birth, geographic region, duration of follow-up, and index date. The analysis was adjusted for diabetes mellitus; prior hospitalizations; comorbidity; and use of diuretics, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, calcium-channel blockers, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, sex hormones, and other lipid-lowering drug therapies.


In the study base, 3129 patients were identified and matched to 16976 controls. Statin use was associated with a risk reduction of cancer of 20% (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 0.80; 95% CI, 0.66 to 0.96). Our data suggest that statins are protective when used longer than 4 years (adjusted OR, 0.64; 95% CI, 0.44 to 0.93) or when more than 1350 defined daily doses are taken (adjusted OR, 0.60; 95% CI, 0.40 to 0.91).


This observational study suggests that statins may have a protective effect against cancer.

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